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Profiling a Nigerian Artist, Nike Davies-Okundaye

Chief Nike Davies-Okundaye, also known as Nike DaviesNike Twins Seven Seven and Nike Olaniyi, is a Nigerian batik and textile designer.

Early life

Nike Davies-Okundaye was born in 1951 in Ogidi, Nigeria. She was brought up amidst the traditional weaving and dying as practised in her home town of Ogidi, Kogi State, in North Central Nigeria. Her parents and great grandmother were musicians and craftspeople, who specialised in the area of cloth weaving, adire making, indigo dying and leather.

Career

Over the past twenty years she has given workshops on traditional Nigerian textiles to audiences in the United States and Europe. She had her first solo exhibition at the Goethe Institute, Lagos in 1968.[2] She is the founder and director of four art centres which offer free training to over 150 young artists in visual, musical and performing arts, comprising over 7,000 artworks.

Finding that the traditional methods of weaving and dying that had been her original inspiration were fading in Nigeria, Davies-Okundaye set about launching a revival of this aspect of Nigerian culture, building art centres offering free courses for young Nigerians to learn traditional arts and crafts. According to CNBC Africa interview, she trained over three thousand young Nigerians for free and she continues to help by funding many poor to establish their small businesses and art workshops in different parts of Nigeria.

She wants to improve lives of disadvantaged women in Nigeria through art. She teaches the unique techniques of indigo cloth-dyeing (Adire) to rural women at her workshop in southwest Nigeria. She hopes to revive the centuries-old tradition and the lives of these women.[3]

She was featured on CNN International’s “African Voices” which tells about Africa’s most engaging personalities, exploring their lives and passions.[4]

Nike’s painting is permanently featured at The Smithsonian Museum as of 2012, and her work is also part of the collection of The Gallery of African Art and The British Library, in London.

She holds the chieftaincy titles of the Yeye Oba of Ogidi-Ijumu and the Yeye Tasase of Oshogbo.

Personal life

She was once married to fellow Nigerian artist Twins Seven Seven, but that marriage ended in divorce. Her son Olabayo Olaniyi, College of Santa Fe graduate, is also an artist. Davies-Okundaye has more than 150 students in Europe and America. She is also a philanthropist.

Published sources

A book about Davies was written by Kim Marie Vaz, The Woman with the Artistic Brush: A Life History of Yoruba Batik Artist Nike Davies.

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